Liver

Liver

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From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

Liver has outstanding nutritional properties, and, when properly prepared, is delicious. Beef, calf, lamb, pork and poultry livers are used in the cookery of many nations. Liver and bacon is a natural combination enjoyed in Britain, the US and Australia. Lamb, beef or calf livers are all used for the dish. Goose liver is made into the famous pâtés and terrines of France and Hungary. Chicken livers are used in some of the risottos of Italy, and in pâté, or can be sautéed to make a quick meal.

Beef, calf, lamb and pork livers are all generally available from butchers. Calf or lamb liver is best enjoyed cut in thin slices and quickly pan-fried, and served with a flavoursome accompaniment, such as onions, bacon, etc. Beef liver is less tender than calf or lamb liver and has a more pronounced flavour; it is often braised with onions. Pork liver has a strong flavour and is less tender than the other kinds; it is not good for frying unless very good quality but makes excellent pâté, or it may be braised whole with vegetables. Poultry livers are tender and mild in flavour, and are usually available from specialty poultry shops.

Basic preparation: Pull thin veil of membrane away from liver. Cut away any fat and gristle, and cut out veins, using a small, sharp-pointed knife. Cut into thin slices or leave whole depending on recipe.

To cook: Liver can be pan-fried, grilled (broiled) or braised.

Pan-fried or sautéed liver: Calf, lamb and good pork liver is cut into thin slices, seasoned with salt and pepper and lightly dusted on each side with flour. Chicken livers are left whole. Heat a small amount of fat in a frying pan (butter, oil or half butter and half oil). Using tongs, put slices in pan. Cook quickly, turning once, for about 4 minutes or until crisp on both sides but pink inside. Cook pork liver a little longer.

Grilled liver: Calf, lamb and poultry livers can be grilled. Have calf or lamb livers cut 1 cm thick. Heat grill (broiler). Put liver on greased grill rack and brush with melted butter. Grill 8–10 cm from heat, turning once, until required doneness, 4–8 minutes in all.

Braised liver: All livers can be braised. Have beef, calf, lamb or pork livers cut 1 cm thick. Sprinkle with flour seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Brown liver quickly on both sides in hot fat (half butter and half oil is ideal), then add 125 ml (4 floz/½ cup) stock and seasoning as desired (fresh herbs, diced bacon, sliced mushrooms, sliced onions) and simmer, covered, until tender.

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